Rugby Injuries Q&A

To help answer some of the most common questions about rugby injuries, we asked General Practitioner Dr Ralph Mitchell and Senior Physiotherapist Gemma Skudder about the most common injuries, how to prevent them and when to seek advice.

What are the most common rugby injuries in players?

Ralph Mitchell

At present, concussion is our most common injury, causing 25% of all match injuries.

This brain injury has attracted a lot of media spotlight over the last few years. It’s where a player sustains a blow (usually) to the head which causes temporary impairment of neurological function which resolves over time.

This particular statistic sounds high but is in part due to better self-recognition of the condition from players, and also improved pitch side assessment tools such as the Head Injury Assessment (HIA).

Combining video technology from the TV feed with a 10 minute period in the medical room, the doctor is granted the time to assess for any neurological signs or symptoms that might suggest concussion and can diagnose the condition more effectively.

Gemma Skudder

Injuries in rugby vary depending on the player’s age and gender. Women tend to have more ankle, foot and knee injuries and gentleman are more likely to have knee and upper body injuries.

The trends in injuries change as the game evolves and it also depends on what level the team plays at.

Do you have any tips on how these injuries could be prevented?

Ralph Mitchell

Rugby is an increasingly physical game with player weights and speeds on the rise. As a result, collisions are getting bigger and the potential of serious injury increasing. However, within the professional game there is a large body of work dedicated to injury prevention.

Physiotherapy and strength and conditioning staff may work with a player to correct any underlying biomechanic weaknesses which may contribute to injury. There is also research which suggests that strengthening the neck can reduce the risk of concussion.1

Gemma Skudder

The RFU (Rugby Football Union) has published a study on injury prevention.1 The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine by the University of Bath and England Rugby, showed a significant impact in reducing rates both for concussion and lower limb injuries by performing a simple, dynamic 20-minute exercise programme before training and pre-match.

This exercise programme has the potential to dramatically reduce injuries in rugby by 60%.

What treatments or therapies help recovery?

Ralph Mitchell

This depends on the injury. For a serious injury hospital care is essential, but for simple soft tissue bruising the age old treatment of RICE (rest ice compression elevation) is still as good as ever.

This method helps to reduce swelling and pain. However, if this isn’t beneficial then appropriate medical/physiotherapy advice should be sought.

Gemma Skudder

Depending on the injury, we use a variety of up-to-date, evidence based practice modalities including shockwave, hydrotherapy, manual therapy, acupuncture and strengthening/conditioning.

I'm an advocate of identifying and treating the underlying issue, as well as the player's symptoms.

When should a player seek advice?

Ralph Mitchell

As soon as possible or necessary. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can lead to shorter recovery times as well as a reduction in risk of long-term injury.

Gemma Skudder

I always encourage the players we look after to be responsible about their injuries, as soon as we identify an issue we begin to work on it to try and resolve it as soon as possible.

It’s best to seek advice and the sooner the better, before it becomes a long term issue.

To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337 or make an online enquiry.

Sources
1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5117042/

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